Can You Trademark a Logo?
Yes, you can trademark any distinctive logo with particular graphics and stylized features. A logo represents your company, coincides with your brand, helps you advertise, and builds and maintains your reputation. This guide will explain how to trademark a logo step by step to protect your company’s intellectual property from infringement.
Why Trademark a Logo?
Trademarking a logo gives you federal protection under US trademark laws. Having the protection of a trademarked logo helps grow your brand and adds value to your business.
A trademarked logo prevents another from using your logo or a similar-looking logo in related goods or services. You can take legal action against those that use your logo. If the court finds infringement, the trademark allows you to stop another’s improper use or collect money for damages.
Once you trademark your logo and get a federal registration in the United States, you can register your logo in foreign countries. A global trademark prevents copycats from importing counterfeit products that use your logo. International trademarks for logos go through WIPO (World Intellectual Property Database). You can see WIPO’s Global Brand Database.
How to Trademark a Logo?
Every step to trademark a logo goes through the USPTO’s (the United States Patent and Trademark Office) website at www.uspto.gov.
The first step to trademark a logo starts with searching the USPTO’s trademark database.
You have to make sure that no one already owns the trademark for the logo. To find logos that look similar to yours or convey a similar impression, you need to identify the design search code for each prominent element in your logo before the search. You can find a complete list of the USPTO design codes in the Design Search Code Manual. Then you can access The Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS) by clicking here, https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/search.
A logo search seems simple; however, the process can become overwhelming. The USPTO will not approve a trademark if your logo has a similar look to a registered logo used in related goods or services. AMPACC has a team of attorneys who specialize in trademark law and can help you with the process of trademarking a logo. AMPACC can perform searches using our knowledge and expertise and save you time and stress.
The second step is to file an initial trademark application with the USPTO.
If your business actively uses a logo to sell products or provide services, you can file a trademark application indicating “use in commerce.” If your business has plans to use a logo in the future, you may file an initial trademark application under the “intent-to-use” filing basis. An “intent-to-use” basis helps protect you against future competitors as your logo will have priority by the USPTO. You will need to submit a sworn statement that you have good faith in using your logo along with an image.
The initial trademark application has two filing options: TEAS Standard or TEAS Plus. You can find more information here, https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/apply/initial-application-forms. You need to provide an image of the logo’s final design. The design, colors, shape, or font in a logo cannot be changed once you submit your trademark application. If you make any changes to your logo, you will need to file a new trademark application, incurring more fees.
AMPACC can guide you through how to trademark a symbol and help you determine which trademark application to submit. Our attorneys will perform the search for the logo trademark and then file the application with the USPTO on your behalf. Our firm’s knowledge of trademark law will ensure that your application has the proper documentation and information that the USPTO requires. If you have any changes to your logo in the colors, style, or font, we can handle the additional trademark steps. After submitting your application, we will answer any questions or respond to any other requests the USPTO may need.
The final step to trademark a logo with the USPTO requires paying the fees of the USPTO. The fees to trademark a logo using the TEAS Plus application cost $250 per class, while the TEAS Standard costs $350 per class. You can view trademark fees on the USPTO’s site here.
How Much Does It Cost to Trademark a Logo?
The cost to trademark a logo varies. When it comes to filing a trademark application and the fees per class, this can get confusing. You can see how much detailed information the USPTO requires by looking at an example of all types of classes.
AMPACC’s team of attorneys can help you determine the appropriate class(es) and filing fees. Approval of your logo trademark registration has no guarantee, and one small mistake can be costly. The USPTO does not issue refunds on trademark application fees.
How Long Does It Take to Trademark a Logo?
Once you submit your trademark logo application, the application process will typically take a year on average. You may check your logo trademark application’s status on the USPTO website. You can find further information on trademark application status here, https://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/apply/check-status-view-documents.
Tips to Trademark a Logo
When applying to trademark a logo, you will need to decide whether or not to claim a color. If color is claimed, you must submit a color version of the logo, and the colors in your actual usage must exactly match those colors in the application at all times.
If color is not claimed, you need only submit the logo in black and white. However, you may use the logo in any color, and changing the colors of your logo does not require a new trademark application. This gives you more flexibility.
Date of First Use
You need to provide the date of first use of your logo in a trademark application. If you started using an earlier version which was replaced by a new version, and the new version is the logo that appears in the application, then you should identify the date of first use of the new version.
Please keep in mind that registration of a logo requires you to use exact the same logo in order to maintain and renew your registration. Even a slight change, say the font or position, requires a new trademark application.
In contrast, a word mark registration (i.e., standard characters) allows you to use the mark in various designs as long as the wording remains the same.
Consider Filing Separate Applications
If your mark consists of a combination of wording and design features, you may file two applications – one as a wordmark, and the other as a design mark (e.g., a logo). You may choose to register one version of the mark before or concurrently with the other.
™ and ®
Regardless of whether you have filed a trademark registration, you can add the ™ symbol to your logo as long as the logo is used to identify the source of your goods or services. However, you cannot legally use the Registration (®) symbol until the USPTO approves the registration of your logo.
Caution: misleading notices
The USPTO has an entire page discussing numerous types of scams and solicitations. Once you apply for a logo trademark, your business or personal information becomes part of public records. Your address and phone number become easily accessible, and you may be a target of a scam. Remain vigilant and stay aware of potentially misleading companies that have no validity or affiliation with the USPTO.
Hire an Attorney
A final tip on how to trademark a logo properly is to hire an attorney. The trademark cost will increase if you make any mistakes, and retaining a lawyer ensures a smoother process. AMPACC has highly skilled trademark attorneys that have proficiency in how to trademark a logo. Please feel free to contact us here https://ampacc.com/contact-us/.